Guatemala first appeared on the world futsal stage in the year 2000, when they hosted the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Although pressure was heavy on the side to at least reach past the first group phase, all the Chapines could manage was a solitary victory over Kazakhstan before losing 29-2 to Brazil. The three points were not enough to take them through. Since then, though, the Central American country has ramped up its efforts in the five-a-side discipline and the evidence of that extra effort is plain for all to see ahead of Brazil 2008.
The Guatemalans are the reigning champions of the North, Central American and Caribbean zone after winning the regional championship in June at their Domo Polideportivo in the capital of Guatemala City. With a slick passing game and blazing speed on the floor, the light blue-clad side made easy meat of the competition. They opened their account with a 5-0 rout of Trinidad and Tobago, then drew 3-3 with Mexico and snuck through to the semi-finals with another 3-3 draw, this time against Cuba. A 4-0 win over group winners and previous champions USA in front of 7000 roaring fans put the hosts in the final, where they beat Cuba in a shootout to claim their first-ever CONCACAF futsal title.
Having returned to the world stage for the first time since 2000, the Guatemalans - coached by Carlos Eduardo Estrada - are keen to show their improvement in futsal. With a slew of talented players in the side, most notably Jose Rafael Gonzalez, the goal for the Chapines is clear: reach past the first stage for the first time.
Facts and figures
Jose Rafael Gonzalez, Marlon Noj
Guatemala only won two games of five played en route to being named 2008 CONCACAF champions. The first came in the group stage against Trinidad and the second against holders the USA in the semi-finals. Their two other group games and the final both ended in draws, with the final needing a shootout to decide the winner.
The numbers game
1 - the number of CONCACAF futsal championships won by Guatemala. It is also the number of FIFA Futsal World Cups they have participated in.